Updated: April 24, 2012 8:13AM
No matter where you may stand on President Barack Obama’s controversial health-care law, one point is indisputable: It is an expansion of the power of the federal government into our everyday lives.
That is the fundamental issue in next week’s arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on the Affordable Care Act, a k a Obamacare, and its individual mandate ordering every person to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. Now, you can argue that’s a good thing in that uninsured people will eventually get sick and the costs will shift to the rest of us, either through higher insurance premiums or taxpayer-funded care.
But this mandate is not about catastrophic insurance, meaning coverage that would protect an individual from bankruptcy-inducing medical charges — and the rest of us from being stuck with that bill. No, Obamacare is about the government influencing all aspects of medical coverage. That, as we’ve learned in recent weeks, includes the government managing details such as ordering church-affiliated hospitals and charities to provide free contraceptives, which cost a few hundred dollars a year, even if that violates the dictates of their conscience and religious beliefs.
No one knows how many ways bureaucrats in Washington will dictate medical coverage in the years ahead or punish those who don’t fall in line with its demands.
But a high court decision this week directed a bright spotlight on how government reaches for ever greater power and is ruthless in exercising its authority over us.
A few years ago, an Idaho couple, Michael and Chantell Sackett, bought a plot of land in a residential area to build a home. Though there wasn’t the smallest trickle of a stream on the land, the Environmental Protection Agency declared it was a wetland because the plot was near a lake.
The couple was ordered to stop construction of their home or face a fine of $75,000 a day . What’s more, the imperious EPA said they had to no right to appeal their plight to a court. In a rare unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court said the Sacketts deserved their day in court. Justice Samuel Alito observed: “If you related the facts of this case as they come to us to an ordinary homeowner, don’t you think most ordinary homeowners would say this kind of thing can’t happen in the United States?”
Indeed, by any commonsense standard, the Sacketts were victimized by regulators gone wild.
Obamacare-empowered bureaucrats would connive to insinuate themselves into ever more basic decisions about the kind of medical and preventive care coverage they think you should buy.
Americans intuitively understand this is a grandiose vision of expansive government. A USA Today/Gallup Poll last month found that 50 percent of Americans see the law as a “bad thing.” A Rasmussen Reports survey of likely voters found 56 percent at least somewhat favor repealing Obamacare, with 46 percent strongly in favor of it. More than half the states are aligned against Obamacare in the high court case.
The administration claims the Constitution’s commerce clause gives it the right to tell us what to do. In responding to Obama’s State of the Union address earlier this year, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels summed up the case against a meddling, busy-body Washington in crystal clear language: “Government is meant to serve the people rather than supervise them.”